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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  14:58:47  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In our most recent Skeptic Summary, Dave put together a list of links pertaining to an ongoing debate which he presents this way:
We would be lousy Summarists if we neglected one of the largest blogwars among pro-science authors to occur in recent memory. On April 22, 2009, Jerry Coyne took the The National Center for Science Education to task for being too accomodating to religions. Below, you will find many of the high-profile players in the resultant discussion, in roughly chronological order:
(I added the link to the NCSE site.)

As it happens, both Dave and I have been following the debate. A good summary of what is at issue can be found on Paul Fidalgo's blog:

Heavyweights of science worry over religious appeasement by pro-evolution group

I suggest that you click on the links that Dave has provided, and then, if you have any thoughts about the ongoing debate, you post them here in this thread.

Note: I chose the religion folder for this post because it seemed the most applicable to me. But there are at least three other folders that would have also worked…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  19:15:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dangit, Kil, you're accomodating religion just by putting this topic in the Religion folder!

Seriously now, I have little doubt that most people here know my stance. I think faith should accomodate reality. I think we've had decades, if not centuries, of scientists and their spokespeople trying to be gentle, dancing with and even kissing up to the faithful (of all stripes) largely in the name of political expediency, and the result (at least in this country) is an astonishing 51% belief that I.D. is worth teaching, a multi-billion-dollar "alternative" medicine racket (which is almost a complete disaster of free-marketeering), unvarnished woo-based hit TV "reality" shows on almost every network (even the alleged 'science' channels) and more-frequenct lawsuits and idiotic school-board decisions over what should be taught to our kids.

Trying to play nice with people of faith in the realm of science education has failed and I see no reason to think that it will not continue to fail.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  21:03:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think we "New Atheists" can accommodate the Accommodationists. If the latter begin acting more inclusively.

The argument that the anti-accomodationists have made is carefully worded. They object to groups like the NCSE putting theists at the forefront, while effectively telling the hard-case atheists to sit down and shut up. In contrast, the anti-accommodationists aren't trying to purge or censor the theistic supporters of science within NCSE. They acknowledge their value in the mix, just as they praise NCSE for its successful work in defending science education.

The hard-case New Atheists already "get it." They want to be fully part of a broad, varied coalition in support of science.

All that is required is actual treatment of the New Atheists as equals. NCSE, and the other pro-science groups need, in practice, to be as religion-neutral as they claim to be.

NCSE shouldn't bend over backwards to kiss up to mainstream religions. They should not ignore the atheists who work so hard to support science, or preferentially highlight the voices of theists. Stop sweeping the atheists under the rug. Let them use the front door, along with the theists. Some NCSE members should not be made to feel "more equal" than others.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  21:07:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

I think we "New Atheists" can accommodate the Accommodationists. If the latter begin acting more inclusively.
Is that the "Really, Really Big Tent" strategy?

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  21:11:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Because the NCSE's focus is to keep religion out of science classrooms, and fights to keep science in, I don't see the problem. They make no accommodation for ID or creationism of any kind. I have argued many times that those who insist that evolution can't be true based on their faith have created a false dichotomy. And that needs to be pointed out to people of faith who think they must chose one or the other. There are plenty of scientists who do great science, who are also people of faith. Their science does not become bad because we don't agree on the existence of God. Science says nothing about God and neither does the NCSE, who are representing for good science, not atheism. So I think the criticism was poorly placed.

The work of the NCSE has been mostly a success story and mostly fought on the enemies of science turf. They have given up no ground to religion in their arguments as something to be taught as science in science classrooms.

And while it may bug some people that they don't attack religion itself, that has never been their focus or their job.


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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  21:25:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Because the NCSE's focus is to keep religion out of science classrooms, and fights to keep science in, I don't see the problem. They make no accommodation for ID or creationism of any kind. I have argued many times that those who insist that evolution can't be true based on their faith have created a false dichotomy. And that needs to be pointed out to people of faith who think they must chose one or the other. There are plenty of scientists who do great science, who are also people of faith. Their science does not become bad because we don't agree on the existence of God. Science says nothing about God and neither does the NCSE, who are representing for good science, not atheism. So I think the criticism was poorly placed.

The work of the NCSE has been mostly a success story and mostly fought on the enemies of science turf. They have given up no ground to religion in their arguments as something to be taught as science in science classrooms.

And while it may bug some people that they don't attack religion itself, that has never been their focus or their job.
But the "anti-accommodationists" aren't demanding that NCSE "attack religion." They are simply demanding that atheists be part of the chorus in support of science education.

And, yes, NCSE has done a splendid job of keeping Creationism out of the classroom, as the New Atheists themselves loudly proclaim.

So what's your objection to atheists being just as visible within NCSE and the science groups as their pet theists?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  21:41:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mooner:
So what's your objection to atheists being just as visible within NCSE and the science groups as their pet theists?
Do you really think that trotting out people like Dawkins would not be a problem for them? There is a strategic advantage to pointing out that theists accept good science and want good science taught. Hell, many of the people they are arguing with think that Darwin equals atheist. My objection is that it's like a call to arm the people they are fighting with the very ammunition they are looking for.

As a matter of practicality, it just doesn't work. Too bad if it isn't fair. While the NCSE is pushing science, the school boards are pushing religion. It doesn't make sense to try to put out that fire by throwing exactly the gasoline that the school boards pushing religion are hoping for.

In any case, it's no secret that Eugenie Scott is an atheist.



Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  21:59:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Science says nothing about God and neither does the NCSE, who are representing for good science, not atheism.
What set Jerry Coyne off was pieces like this one, which tries to teach people what to believe about the Bible. This isn't science education, nor is it representing good science.
The work of the NCSE has been mostly a success story and mostly fought on the enemies of science turf.
It's been entirely a success story, up until recently. The problem is definitely not the very excellent work they've done in the courts (for example).
They have given up no ground to religion in their arguments as something to be taught as science in science classrooms.
Again, not the problem.
And while it may bug some people that they don't attack religion itself, that has never been their focus or their job.
Nobody is asking that to be their job. Well, none of the people involved in the blog debate. And I'm not asking it of them, either. I just think they need to stop coddling the theists. Science education isn't about making people feel good about their non-scientific beliefs.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  22:09:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Mooner:
So what's your objection to atheists being just as visible within NCSE and the science groups as their pet theists?
Do you really think that trotting out people like Dawkins would not be a problem for them? There is a strategic advantage to pointing out that theists accept good science and want good science taught. Hell, many of the people they are arguing with think that Darwin equals atheist. My objection is that it's like a call to arm the people they are fighting with the very ammunition they are looking for.

As a matter of practicality, it just doesn't work. Too bad if it isn't fair. While the NCSE is pushing science, the school boards are pushing religion. It doesn't make sense to try to put out that fire by throwing exactly the gasoline that the school boards pushing religion are hoping for.

In any case, it's no secret that Eugenie Scott is an atheist.
Yes! I honestly think that introducing, say, biologist (and atheist) Richard Dawkins standing with, say, paleontologist (and theist) Robert T. Bakker in support of sound science in the classrooms would be far more effective that putting just theist scientists and preachers on display. People would get the correct impression: Scientists overwhelmingly support evolution, regardless of their religious beliefs. That would be evolutionary Big Tent politics in action!

Yes, Eugenie Scott is an atheist. I just think she's quite misguided for thinking that, besides herself, only theists should be seen or heard.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  22:11:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'll tell ya Dave. I have no problem with the piece that you linked to. This fight is basically against biblical literalists. Pointing out that the literalist position is not tenable seems like fair game to me. The NCSE website is not teaching science. It is the website of the main group that is fighting to keep science science in the classroom. And that may sometimes mean showing a person of faith that science is not incompatible with the bible unless it's taken literally.

I have had that argument many times with people of faith. I see nothing wrong with doing that.

And Mooner, those school boards already know Dawkins is an atheist. What comes as a surprise to them are the number of theists who want to keep science taught as science and separate from religion.

And believe me, Scott makes it a very big point of hers that she is representing an overwhelming consensus of scientists.

So I must humbly disagree with you.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  22:27:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

So I must humbly disagree with you.
Not humbly enough.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  22:35:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Originally posted by Kil

So I must humbly disagree with you.
Not humbly enough.





Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  22:54:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One further thought:

The NCSE position reminds me of a mirror image of the Intelligent Design tactics of the Discovery Institute.

Just as ID falsely presents Creationism as though it were a purely or primarily a scientific theory, the NCSE is falsely presenting evolutionary biology as though it were the primarily the creature of theists.

Both sides are positioning themselves with propagandistic "framing" lies. Both positions should be criticized in that regard.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2009 :  23:39:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

One further thought:

The NCSE position reminds me of a mirror image of the Intelligent Design tactics of the Discovery Institute.

Just as ID falsely presents Creationism as though it were a purely or primarily a scientific theory, the NCSE is falsely presenting evolutionary biology as though it were the primarily the creature of theists.

Both sides are positioning themselves with propagandistic "framing" lies. Both positions should be criticized in that regard.




Baloney. Honestly, really... baloney.

Okay, how about if they just shoot themselves in the foot, better yet, their heads so that atheists, who, last I heard don't have a religion, don't feel under represented. What the hell is this, hard feelings? No way is the NCSE "presenting evolutionary biology as if it were primarily the creature of theists". That's just crap. They aren't presenting it as tied to any religion, or lack thereof, at all.

Framing? You can call any strategy framing. Scott doesn't hide the fact that she is an atheist. I don't suppose that counts though.

[sarcasm]
Yes, they should put Dawkins on their site because, you know, he's an atheist. (It's being kept a secret by the NCSE that he is one, right?) And why not bring him to Christ County, along with Myers and, you know, and equal number of theists to prove that even atheist scientists think evolution happens, and not just, you know, theists. (Can you imagine the shock when the all Christian school board hears that little secret?) That should do the trick.[/sarcasm]

And by the way, it isn't only theists who testify before those boards, just so you know. I don't know where you got that idea. But hey, do you think the atheists should announce that they are atheists? What exactly would they be selling? If you can't see how a guy like Kenneth Miller takes much of the wind out of a christian school boards sails, just go ahead and call the NCSE liars.

And I thought Coyne was wrong headed. Are you kidding?

Could you be any less practical or even more insulting?



Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2009 :  00:57:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
I have argued many times that those who insist that evolution can't be true based on their faith have created a false dichotomy. And that needs to be pointed out to people of faith who think they must chose one or the other. There are plenty of scientists who do great science, who are also people of faith. Their science does not become bad because we don't agree on the existence of God.
This is exactly right. The facts are the facts. The science is the same whether presented by an atheist or a theist. This is the message that needs to be stressed.

Okay, how about if they just shoot themselves in the foot, better yet, their heads so that atheists, who, last I heard don't have a religion, don't feel under represented. What the hell is this, hard feelings?
So are you now back peddling, Kil? I thought "science does not become bad because we don't agree on the existence of God," yet suddenly pointing out that many science supporters are atheists amounts to shooting science promoters in the head? I thought the message was that science can be done by everyone?

Framing? You can call any strategy framing. Scott doesn't hide the fact that she is an atheist. I don't suppose that counts though.
Are atheist resources promoted by the NCSE to the same degree that theistic evolution is? If not, I find that extremely problematic. Just because some Christians might get the wrong idea, or even use the presence of atheists as ammunition for their anti-science propaganda, is no reason to favor one viewpoint over another. The NCSE is in the business of educating the public. So educate them. Pandering to their misconceptions is a cop-out.

Could you be any less practical or even more insulting?
I find it insulting that you consider promoting magical thinking--to the exclusion of other viewpoints--a "practical" necessity. Who decided it was practical, you? The NCSE is supposed to be viewpoint neutral. Sure, point out that many people have found ways to reconcile their faith with the science. But ultimately that's for people to come to grips with for themselves. The NCSE definitely should not be in the business of encouraging theistic evolution.

Look, I agree that Mooner went a bit overboard comparing the NCSE to the Discovery Institute, since it isn't to that point yet. But that's what it will become if the accommodationalists succeed in silencing all other viewpoints.

This fight is basically against biblical literalists.
And that's the problem. You think think the fight is just against the biblical literalists. I think it's with everyone who wants to insert their favorite magical explanation into science, and that includes theistic evolutionists. This is the fertile field from which creationists swell their ranks. You can't expect to increase science literacy with any permanence if you simultaneously wrap it in a cloak of mysticism and faith. That's the definition of counterproductive. Dave is correct. This strategy has failed. To pretend that it would only work if atheists wouldn't be so vocal is bordering on the delusional, since religious resistance to evolution far predates the "new" atheist movement. So no, this isn't about "hard feelings," but about what's doing what's best for increasing science education in the public. I'm willing to accept that disagreement exists on the best way to accomplish that, which is precisely why it's imperative the NCSE not become a pawn in this ongoing disagreement.

Not everyone agrees that science and religion are incompatible. Fine. I don't expect we'll ever all see eye to eye on that, and I'm not looking to the NCSE to engage in that fight. The science is the one thing we can all agree upon, which is why it is imperative that the NCSE stick only to the science. Right now it is being hijacked by supporters who wish to silence all competing voices solely on the unsupported belief that they and they alone know how best to reach the public and increase acceptance of evolution over the long term. And that's bullshit.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 05/05/2009 01:01:29
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2009 :  01:39:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Baloney. Honestly, really... baloney.

Okay, how about if they just shoot themselves in the foot, better yet, their heads so that atheists, who, last I heard don't have a religion, don't feel under represented.
Yes, it true that atheists lack a religion. What does that have to do with representation? And just who do you imagine shooting themselves? Honest, I don't get that one at all.
What the hell is this, hard feelings? No way is the NCSE "presenting evolutionary biology as if it were primarily the creature of theists". That's just crap. They aren't presenting it as tied to any religion, or lack thereof, at all.
Perhaps I should have said that more clearly.

The message itself is on track. Indeed, it is a message that religion is not the issue, science is. (Otherwise, NCSE could never have had the victories they'd celebrated.) NCSE's unbalanced choice of messengers is an issue, however. NCSE is representing evolution education using theists primarily, ignoring the hard work of atheists who have been at the barricades on the issue, in order to make it appear to school boards that NCSE is primarily theistic-backed.

"Hard feelings?" I little, yes. Why shouldn't atheist scientists be presented equally with theistic ones? Not doing so is deliberate discrimination, and yeah, that gripes me.
Framing? You can call any strategy framing. Scott doesn't hide the fact that she is an atheist. I don't suppose that counts though.
No, that doesn't count. But atheists, too, can be wrong-headed, and want to exclude the participation of other atheists.
[sarcasm]
Yes, they should put Dawkins on their site because, you know, he's an atheist. (It's being kept a secret by the NCSE that he is one, right?) And why not bring him to Christ County, along with Myers and, you know, and equal number of theists to prove that even atheist scientists think evolution happens, and not just, you know, theists. (Can you imagine the shock when the all Christian school board hears that little secret?) That should do the trick.[/sarcasm]
That's very silly, but don't let me stop you.
And by the way, it isn't only theists who testify before those boards, just so you know. I don't know where you got that idea. But hey, do you think the atheists should announce that they are atheists? What exactly would they be selling? If you can't see how a guy like Kenneth Miller takes much of the wind out of a christian school boards sails, just go ahead and call the NCSE liars.
And that's exactly why I appreciate guys like Miller as part of the mix. "Framing" I can support, 'cause it's honest. They defeat the idea that evolution is only an atheist plot. Now, please list some of these atheists that have been brought in by NCSE to speak to the boards. Eugenie Scott and ...?
And I thought Coyne was wrong headed. Are you kidding?

Could you be any less practical or even more insulting?



Hey, give me some time to get my act together, and I won't disappoint.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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